Would you Believe it: 51 Battle stars? 629 days from the USA?
During the Albany convention, I talked to my friend Joe Deissfer, USS WATERMAN DE 740. He asked if I knew which Destroyer-Escort Division Earned the most battle stars. I've known Joe for a long time and consider him to be a very astute person. However, when he told me about the action record of Destroyer-Escort Division 32, I found myself wondering about his memory. I've heard that persons in our age group suffer "senior moments" every so often; I think I've had one or two. I also know the older we get the more battle stars we remember our ships earning. So, when Joe told me Cort Div 32 earned 51 battle stars, I did a double take. Ships in the Division were USS BANGUST DE 739 (eleven battle stars), USS WATERMAN DE 740 (eight battle stars), USS WEAVER DE 741 (nine battle stars), USS HILBERT DE 742 (eight battle stars), USS LAMONS DE 743 (nine battle stars) and USS KYNE DE 744 (six battle stars). I went to the records and checked. He is right. His Division earned 51 battle stars. Now here is another one for you. A while back, I heard from Henry Davis and he too presented me with a question. Henry served on USS BANGUST DE 739. He feels his ship may hold the record for the longest deployment away from the United States. USS BANGUST recorded a continuous time away from the U.S. of 629 days.
Now for the questions. Can any other Destroyer Escort Division equal or better the record of 51 battle stars? Did any other DE or APD stay away from the U.S. as long or longer than 629 days? Joe and Henry are waiting to hear from their DESA shipmates. Until they do, the records belong to them and their ships.
SAM SAYLOR, DESA DIRECTOR
(end of DESA article)
Bangust (DE-739) Flagship of Cortdiv32
Laid down by Western Pipe and Steel, Los Angeles (San Pedro) California: February 11 1943.
Launched: June 6 1943
Commissioned: October 30 1943.
Cannon Class (DET) 1942. (72 Ships - 31 Built)
Displacement: 1240 tons
Beam: 36' 7"
Draft: 11' 8" max
Armament: 3x 3"/50AA, 2x 40MM, 10x 20MM, 3x 21"TT 3x1, 1 Hedgehog, 8 DCT, 2 DC Racks
Machinery: 6,000 BHP, 4 G.M. Model 16-278A Diesel Engines With Electric Drive 2 screws.
Speed: 21. kts.
BANGUST (DE-739) Flagship of Cortdiv32 was launched 6 June 1943 by Western Pipe and Steel Co., Los Angeles, CA, sponsored by Mrs. Stephen W. Gerber. The ship was commissioned 30 October 1943 with Lieutenant Commander C. F. MacNish, USNR, in command, and reported to the Pacific Fleet.
Between February 1944 and August 1945, BANGUST escorted various logistic groups during the occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls (8 February 1944); Palau-Yap-Ulithi-Woleai raid (8 March-1 April); occupation of Saipan, Guam and Tinian (18 June-11 August) Battle of Philippine Sea (19-20 June); occupation of the southern Palau Islands and the assault on the Philippine Islands (11 September-13 October); Leyte operation (18 October-25 December); 3rd Fleet raids on Formosa, the China coast and the Nansei Shoto in support of the Luzon operation (1-25 January 1945); occupation of Iwo Jima (18 February-6 March); 5th and 3rd Fleet raids in support of the Okinawa operation (20 March-10 June); and 3rd Fleet raids against Japan (1-18 July and 29 July-15 August).
At 2314 on 10 June 1944, BANGUST, proceeding independently from Pearl Harbor to Kwajalein, made radar contact with what upon closer investigation proved to be a surfaced Japanese submarine. The submarine quickly dove, but between 0001 and 0152, 11 June BANGUST made four hedgehog attacks, the last of which sank the Japanese submarine RO-42, in 10°05' N, 168° 22' E. BANGUST returned to the United States in the fall of 1945; was decommissioned 17 November 1946 and, 21 February 1952 was transferred to Peru under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program.
BANGUST received 11 battle stars for her World War II service.
dp. 1,240; l. 306'; b. 36' 10"; dr 8' 9" (mean); s. 21 k; cpl. 220; a. 3-3", 2-40mm, 8-20mm, 3-21" tt, 2 act, 8 dcp, 1 dcp (hh); cl. Cannon WATERMAN (DE-740) was laid down 24 February 1943 at San Pedro, CA, by Western Steel and Pipe Co.; launched 20 June 1943; sponsored by Mrs. June M. Waterman, the widow of Aviation Machinist's Mate 1st Class Waterman. The ship was commissioned 30 November 1943, Lieutenant Commander W. B. Hinds, USNR, in command.
After shakedown out of San Diego and post-shakedown availability at her builder's yard, WATERMAN departed San Pedro 12 February 1944 and proceeded independently to Pearl Harbor, where she arrived six days later. Once in Hawaiian waters, the new escort vessel underwent further training in antisubmarine warfare and gunnery.
WATERMAN departed Pearl Harbor 6 March and screened the escort carrier NASSAU (CVE-16) as she ferried replacement aircraft, passengers, and cargo to Kwajalein, Majuro, Tarawa and Makin in the Marshalls and Gilberts. The destroyer escort returned to Pearl Harbor 24 March.
Continuing in her role as an escort vessel, WATERMAN sailed from Hawaiian waters 9 April, bound for the Marshalls in company with BOWERS (DE-637) and escorting Convoy 4162-A which was made up of merchant tankers. WATERMAN arrived at Majuro one week later, then performed local escort missions out of that base through May.
On 1 June, WATERMAN joined Task Group (TG) 50.17, a fleet service group made up of vital support ships - particularly fleet oilers, tugs, ammunition ships, supply ships, and the like - that allowed the fast carrier task forces to remain at sea for prolonged periods of time. Those ships provided the carriers and their escorts with the vital necessities of life - food, fuel, ammunition, mail, etc. - anything the fleet needed to keep up the pressure on the Japanese.
WATERMAN's first assignment in that role was operating in support of the Marianas operation. She departed Majuro 6 June and protected the TG for a fortnight before completing her mission at Eniwetok on the 20th. She then steamed to the Marianas and picked up an oiler at Saipan - while fighting was still in progress ashore - and screened her back to the Marshalls.
Underway from Eniwetok 26 July, WATERMAN rendezvoused with the fleet service group east of the Marianas and protected the oilers as they refueled the ships supporting the landings on Guam.
After returning to the Marshalls, the destroyer escort sailed from Eniwetok 26 August bound for the Admiralties and arrived at Manus five days later. She returned to the open sea with a Service Force Unit, TU 30.8.7, supporting the invasion of Western Carolines. During that time, the destroyer escort operated west of the Philippine Islands supporting carrier strikes.
WATERMAN - operating out of Manus through September - weighed anchor 4 October and stood out to sea, escorting the fleet service group to points east of The Philippines, where they replenished carriers launching air strikes smashing Japanese positions on the island of Leyte.
After escorting Service Force units which were supporting the Leyte landings, WATERMAN operated between 2 November and 23 December with TG 30.8 - the TG servicing carrier forces operating east of the Philippine Islands; planes from those fast carriers largely neutralized Japanese air and sea power in The Philippines and Formosa.
While operating with TG 30.8, WATERMAN encountered the worst weather of her career - the infamous typhoon of 18 December 1944. For approximately 36 hours, the fierce storm battered Admiral Halsey's fleet - large and small ships alike. Winds of 120 knots threw almost solid clouds of spume and spray and whipped up waves of about 80 feet in height, making life aboard WATERMAN decidedly "uncomfortable." Upon occasion, the ship rolled as much as 65°. As her commanding officer recounted, "This day was a never to be forgotten one and was indelibly impressed in the minds of the crew."
Before the typhoon had spent itself, three ships - all lightly-loaded destroyers, low on fuel - had been sunk and others damaged. On 23 December, two days before Christmas, WATERMAN steamed back to Ulithi "somewhat battered, but in much better condition than a majority of the larger ships." One week later, the destroyer escort was at sea, bound for Guam. From 4 January to 3 March 1945, WATERMAN saw continuous service screening the fleet service group. She spent much of January supporting the occupation of Luzon from the fueling areas east of The Philippines and, in February, escorted the vital auxiliaries to a rendezvous with the fleet that soon commenced the pre-invasion bombardment of Iwo Jima.
While thus engaged, WATERMAN distinguished herself. On 17 February, an internal explosion ripped through the forward section of oiler PATUXENT (AO-44), leaving gaping holes in her bow and fires that raged over the forward part of the ship, endangering part of the cargo of volatile aviation gas. WATERMAN promptly left her screening station and was the first of two escorts to come alongside and lend a hand. She closed the endangered ship from one side while DEWEY (DD-349) approached her from the other. The destroyer escort's repair parties, operating under extremely hazardous conditions, streamed thousands of gallons of water on PATUXENT's blaze and finally extinguished it. For his part in directing the destroyer escort's effort, Lieutenant Commander J. H. Stahle, USNR, the ship's commanding officer, received the Bronze Star Medal.
After upkeep and logistics at Ulithi, WATERMAN departed the Carolines 22 March for a fueling area east of Okinawa. During the first two weeks of April, WATERMAN escorted ATTU (CVE-102) as she ferried replacement planes to the fast carrier task forces on two round trips between Okinawa and Guam. For the remainder of the war in the Pacific, WATERMAN screened Fleet Service Force units steaming a few hundred miles off the Japanese homeland while the fleet's carriers, battleships and cruisers carried out devastating attacks on the enemy's very doorstep.
21 August, less than a week after Japan capitulated, WATERMAN was assigned to TG 35.80, a special support group set up to enter Tokyo Bay as part of the initial occupation force. With their "battle colors" flying, she and KYNE (DE-744) - the first destroyer escorts to reach Sagami Wan - entered that body of water just southwest of the erstwhile enemy's capital city of Tokyo 28 August and dropped anchor less than a mile off shore from the town of Katase. On 31 August, she moved into Tokyo Bay proper and, two days later, hauled down her "battle flag" as surrender terms were signed on board the battleship MISSOURI (BB-63).
On 4 September, WATERMAN was assigned to TG 30.6, whose duty it was to evacuate Allied prisoners of war (POWs) from nearby prison camps. That afternoon, the destroyer escort entered the harbor at Yokohama and transported POWs to nearby hospital ships, receiving ships and Kizarazu airfield. WATERMAN continued that work of mercy until 10 September, when she departed the Tokyo area with TU 30.6.3 - four LSMs and sister ship WEAVER (DE-741) - bound for Shiogama, on the eastern coast of Honshu, through which port the POWs from the Sendai camp were being evacuated. The following morning, WATERMAN entered Shiogama harbor and joined other units of TG 30.6 who were already in the process of evacuating the Allied POWs there. On 14 September, the destroyer escort sailed for Kamaishi, arriving there the following morning for further evacuation of POWs. Upon completion of that operation, TG 30.6 returned to Tokyo Bay where it was dissolved; WATERMAN was assigned to escort duties with TG 16.5 (of Service Squadron 6) for duty. In that role, the destroyer escort remained moored in Yokosuka harbor 19-29 September.
On the afternoon of 29 September, WATERMAN received homeward-bound orders after 20 months of duty in the Pacific war zone; she stood out of Tokyo Bay 2 October.
After steaming via Pearl Harbor, she arrived at San Pedro, CA, 20 October and remained there until 6 November, when she was underway for the Canal Zone and Philadelphia. Arriving there 22 November, the ship remained at Philadelphia until 10 December, undergoing availability. WATERMAN shifted to Green Cove Springs, FL, where she was laid up in reserve at the Atlantic Reserve Fleet berthing area 31 May 1946.
WATERMAN never again saw active service under the Stars and Stripes. She was transferred to the government of Peru 21 February 1952 under the Mutual Defense Assistance Pact (MDAP) and was struck from the Navy list 18 April that same year. Arriving in Peruvian waters 24 May 1952, WATERMAN was renamed AGUIRRE and classified as a destroyer, D-2. Reclassified a destroyer escort, DE-2 in 1959 and DE-62 in 1960, AGUIRRE served the Peruvian Navy until she was disposed of in 1974.
WATERMAN (DE-740) received eight battle stars for her World War II service.
dp. 1,240, l. 306', b. 36' 10", dr. 11' 8" (mean), s. 21 k; cpl. 220, a. 3-3", 2-40mm, 8-20mm, 3-21" tt, 8 dcp, 1 dcp (hh), 2 dct; cl. Cannon WEAVER (DE-741) was laid down 13 March 1943 at Los Angeles, CA, by Western Pipe & Steel Co., launched Independence Day 1943, sponsored by Mrs. John Franklin Weaver, and commissioned 31 December 1943; Lieutenant Commander R. S. Paret, USNR, in command.
WEAVER conducted shakedown training along the California coast during the first two months of 1944. On 2 March, she stood out of San Francisco Bay, bound for the Western Pacific. The destroyer escort made an overnight stop at Pearl Harbor 14-15 March, then continued her voyage west via Kwajalein. She arrived in Majuro later that month and joined the screen of TG 50.17, the 5th Fleet replenishment and refueling group. WEAVER operated as a unit of the screen of the 5th/3rd Fleet logistics group throughout her World War II service. Operating from the base at Majuro, she escorted the oilers to refueling rendezvous with the fast carriers during their raids on Truk, Satawan and Ponape in late April and early May. Moving forward to the base at Eniwetok, she continued to protect the logistics group during the assault on Saipan in June. Later that summer, she and her charges kept the carriers in action during the invasion of Western Carolines and the Palaus. Following that operation, the logistics group moved forward, operating briefly out of Seeadler Harbor at Manus in the Admiralty Islands, then out of Ulithi in the Western Carolines for the remainder of the war. Ulithi served as the base for TF 58/38 during the last year of the war in the Pacific. WEAVER escorted the oilers to Ulithi where they replenished their storage tanks, then back to sea to refill the carriers' oil bunkers. Thus, in 1945, she helped to keep the pressure on the Japanese during the Luzon landings, the Iwo Jima assault and during the Okinawa campaign. The latter phases of her service also included escort missions in support of the fast carrier raids on the Japanese home islands during the summer of 1945.
When the Japanese capitulated 15 August 1945, the destroyer escort was at sea with TG 30.8 keeping the carriers in fuel. On 28 August, she carried a prize crew from PROTEUS (AS-19) to the surrendered Japanese submarine I-400, then entered Sagami Wan, Japan, to begin duty with the occupation forces. For the next month, the warship assisted in the evacuation of former Allied prisoners of war from Japan. On 2 October, she concluded her duty in Japan and set sail from Yokosuka, bound for home. Steaming via Pearl Harbor, San Pedro and the Panama Canal, she arrived in Philadelphia 22 November to begin preparations for inactivation. Late in December, she moved south to Green Cove Springs, FL, where, though technically still in commission, she joined the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. WEAVER was not finally decommissioned until 29 May 1947. She remained at Green Cove Springs until 21 February 1952, at which time she was sold to Peru. Her name was struck from the Navy list 18 April 1952. She served the Peruvian Navy as RODRIGUEZ (DE-163), and, as of the beginning of 1980, was still in service as a submarine accommodation ship.
WEAVER earned nine battle stars during World War II.
dp. 1,240 , l. 306', b. 36' 10"; dr. 11' 8"; s. 21 k; cpl. 220; a. 3-3", 2-40mm, 10-20mm, 3-21" tt, 2 dct, 9 dcp; cl. Cannon HILBERT (DE-742) was launched 18 July 1943 by Western Pipe & Steel Co., sponsored by Mrs. Fern Hilbert Wier, sister of Aviation Ordnanceman Hilbert. The ship was commissioned 4 February 1944, Commander J. W. Golinkin, USNR, in command.
After shakedown out of California, HILBERT departed San Francisco 13 May 1944, escorting a transport. Arriving Pearl Harbor 20 May, she proceeded to Kwajalein and joined the 5th Fleet. From June through August, HILBERT screened the fueling group of Admiral R. K. Turner's Northern Attack Force for the capture of Saipan and Tinian. The Marianas were stoutly and bitterly contested, requiring great flexibility and fortitude before our fleet conquered the rugged and well defended islands.
HILBERT also played a key role in protecting our oilers which fueled Admiral Marc Mitscher's Fast Carrier Task Force engaged in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, one of the most decisive battles of the war.
In October, HILBERT joined Admiral Halsey's 3rd Fleet and screened the logistics group for the Battle of Leyte Gulf. She also participated in supporting actions in the operations against The Philippines, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the Japanese home islands.
HILBERT, with other units of the 3rd Fleet, anchored for the first time in Japanese waters at Sagami Wan 9 September 1945. Departing Tokyo 29 September, HILBERT sailed to Philadelphia via Los Angeles and the Canal Zone and thence to Green Cove Springs, FL, arriving 17 December. She decommissioned 19 June 1946 and joined the Reserve Fleet. In February 1952, HILBERT joined the Reserve Fleet at Philadelphia.
dp. 1,240; l. 306'; b. 36' 10"; dr. 11' 8"; s. 21 k.; cpl. 220; a. 3-3", 2-40mm, 10-20mm, 9 dcp, 2 dct, 3-21" tt; cl. Cannon LAMONS (DE-743) was laid down 10 April 1943 by Western Pipe & Steel Co., San Pedro, CA, launched 1 August 1943, sponsored by Mrs. Leora M. Lamons, widow of Boatswain Mate Second Class Lamons. The ship was commissioned 29 February 1944, Lieutenant Commander C. K. Hutchison in command.
After shakedown, LAMONS departed San Francisco 10 May 1944, escorting three merchant ships to Western Pacific. She arrived Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands, 3 June and joined the screen of fueling groups supporting the invasion of Saipan. The destroyer escort remained in the Marianas until Saipan was secure.
The fleet next turned to the Palau Islands, which were needed as staging points for ships and aircraft during the forthcoming Leyte landings. During September, LAMONS screened fueling groups which replenished ships en route to the Peleliu assault.
Returning to Manus 1 October, the destroyer escort prepared for the vital Philippine Islands invasion. Sailing 4 October with TG 30.8, LAMONS steamed toward the fueling areas off Leyte. For the next three months, she operated as a screen for oilers replenishing the fleet during the Philippine campaign. With Leyte secured, LAMONS departed Ulithi 29 December as screen for a refueling group supporting the Luzon landings.
The destroyer escort returned to Ulithi 27 January 1945 and prepared for her next assignment, the invasion of Iwo Jima. Departing Ulithi 8 February, she steamed toward the tiny volcanic island, which was needed as a stopover base for B-29 air raids on Japan. LAMONS remained in the fueling areas until early March, supporting the bloody but inspiring struggle which wrested this invaluable strategic base from Japanese hands.
Preparations for the invasion of Okinawa, the last remaining barrier on the road to Japan, were now complete. LAMONS sailed 19 March to screen oilers as they refueled the ships of the greatest armada assembled during the Pacific war. After remaining in the vicinity throughout the Okinawa campaign, she sailed 26 June to protect the escort carriers which assured troops of the 8th Army air superiority during landings in Balikpapan, Borneo.
The Navy now turned to Japan itself. In mid-July, LAMONS sailed with TG 30.8 to fuel carriers engaged in air raids on the enemy homeland. The destroyer escort continued these operations until after Japan capitulated. She arrived Ulithi 31 August for a brief respite, but was at sea again 10 September escorting ESCAMBIA (AO-80) to Okinawa before sailing for home 1 October. After a brief stop at San Pedro, CA, the destroyer escort sailed for the East Coast, arriving Philadelphia 23 November. LAMONS decommissioned at Green Cove Springs, FL, 14 June 1946, and joined the Atlantic Reserve Fleet in February 1951.
LAMONS received nine battle stars for World War II service.
dp. 1,240, l. 306'; b. 36' 10"; dr. 11' 8"; s. 21 k; cpl. 220; a. 3-3", 2-40mm, 10-20mm, 9 dcp, 2 dct, 3-21" tt; cl. Cannon KYNE (DE-744) was laid down 16 April 1943 by Western Pipe & Steel Co, Los Angeles, CA, launched 15 August 1943, sponsored by Mrs. Alma Marion Kyne, widow of Ensign. Kyne, and commissioned 4 April 1944, Commander A. Jackson, Jr., in command.
After shakedown along the West Coast, KYNE cleared Los Angeles 6 June 1944 to join the Pacific Fleet. Following training and escort duty at Pearl Harbor, KYNE was underway 12 August to screen a task force which brought material and ships for the impending Palau Islands invasion. She departed Manus 15 September as escort to transports filled with garrison troops and supplies, landing at Peleliu 20 September. KYNE sailed the same day as escort to a convoy carrying wounded Marines from the scene of battle.
For the next three months, the destroyer escort continued screening operations out of Ulithi for a fleet logistic support unit which replenished both Task Force 38 and Task Force 58. Departing Ulithi 2 January 1945, KYNE provided escort service for refueling operations in support of the Luzon landings in January. She remained on station in The Philippines before returning to Ulithi 21 January to prepare for the Iwo Jima landings. Operating with support units, she departed Ulithi 8 February to provide a screen for refueling operations during the Iwo Jima invasion. When that island was secure, giving the United States an air strip vitally needed as a base for future B-29 raids on Japan, KYNE returned to Ulithi 5 March. Sailing again 25 March as a screen to oilers, she made her way to Okinawa - the last step on the road to Japan. She continued screen and patrol operations for the support unit throughout most of the Okinawa campaign, returning to Ulithi 21 May.
KYNE cleared San Pedro Bay, P. I. , 26 June to screen escort carriers as they provided air support for the invasion near Balikpapan, Borneo. Following the Borneo landings, she returned to the logistic support group during July as planes of the fleet rained fire on the Japanese home islands. Upon cessation of hostilities 15 August and, after 43 days at sea, KYNE arrived Tokyo Bay 28 August as part of the occupation force. Departing Yokosuka 2 October, the destroyer escort arrived Philadelphia 23 November via Pearl Harbor and Long Beach. KYNE decommissioned at Green Cove Springs, FL, 14 June 1946.
During 1947, KYNE was designated in service, in reserve, and operated as a reserve training ship out of Fort Schuyler, NY. She recommissioned 21 November 1950, Lieutenant Commander Carl L. Scherrer in command, and was assigned to the 3rd Naval District as a reserve training ship. For the next nine years, KYNE provided the training necessary to maintain a well drilled reserve, ready to defend the nation during any crisis. KYNE decommissioned 17 June 1960 at New York.
KYNE received six battle stars for World War II service.